Retrograde. Bamboozlement! More Bamboozlement!

Maneka Gandhi DCM towel Ad, 1974

It seems I and Mr. Bawaseer Kumar from Aonla are the only two people interested in this - Maneka Gandhi's Towel Ad. Bawaseer Kumar's interest is driven by curiosity about the colorful history of his Parliamentary representative (But I suspect his is a closet Nehru-Gandhi Clan hater just looking for ammunition - the proof, the 'dekha mainay kaha tha these Nehru/Gandhi's are sickular people' kind of proof). My interest, I am just vella. It is either all that or that nobody reads or rather cares for India Today anymore. The infamous 'deleted from history' ad was recently re-published in December 26, 2011, 'Makers & Breakers of Modern India' special issue of the magazine.

Maneka Gandhi in DCM's 'Towels so good you want to wear them' campaign, 1973.
Note with the ad reads: "This was justly Maneka Gandhi's, 22, first claim to fame. As an aspiring model, she had  signed up with DCM to model for their entire campaign of towels that were launched in 1973. But her success on the modelling scene was short-lived. When she became engaged to Sanjay, the advertising agency MCM was summarily commanded to withdraw the campaign and clam up all possible remaining records of it."

The story is told by Vinod Mehta in 'The Sanjay story: from Anand Bhavan to Amethi' (1978).

"Beginning in 1974 Miss Anand was plasterred all over Delhi. 'A lanky, vivacious college beauty queen' (crowned 'Miss Sri Ram College' in '73). she had recently taken to modelling with great sucess. Dressed scantily in a towel she was seen on billboards and press ads promoting Delhi Cloth Mills."

On July 28, 1974, MCM, the agency behind the ad campaign, was called up by Maneka's father Lt. Col. Tarlochan Singh Anand who demanded all pictures and transparencies of her daughter be returned. The press was told not to run the Ad anymore. On July 29, a press release declared Sanjay's engagement to an 18 year old girl named Maneka who was learning German at JNU and working as a journalist for a weekly called 'Delhi Dateline'.

The image barely seems as scandalous as one's imagination would have you believe. It was censored and cleaned up after all.  Well, that indeed is the true nature of censorship. It lets the imagination run wild.


Absolute Bollywood Zeher

Movies I watched last year. Or 100 movies you need not watch before you die. 
Collected these over the last year from a  '5-in-1' shop in a basti (now demolished) in Gurgaon. 


Rushdie Interview, 1982

"I do long to go back to India. To live? I just don't know if that's possible. It might be...I'll tell you when I go back there. You see, I haven't lived in India since I was a child, since I was fourteen, because from then my parents were in Pakistan where they still are. I visit them there all the time
and I now really know Pakistan more than I know India, although I like it less, ad the more I know it the less I like it. So India is a sort of country of my
imagination for me, rather than anywhere that I have actual, concrete day-to-day connections with any more. Although one of the pleasant things that's happened through Midnight's Children is that my contact with India has increased enormously.
People endlessly ask me whether I think of myself as British or Indian. I don't really think of myself as either. I think of myself as me. I never really have particularly defined myself against nations. I don't see why one has to make that definition. I'm somebody who lives in Britain and has his roots in India. That seems to me to be enough, really. Why does one have to be more precise than that?"

~  A recent Booker Prize winner Salman Rushdie talking to co-producer of 'Gandhi', Rani Dube for Debonair Magazine June 1982.

Download the complete interview here


Tripping on Asimov

"In 2002, a survey carried out by the Nobel Institute on 100 of the world’s best authors from 54 countries led to Don Quixote being declared the best book of all time. Newspapers trumpeted the news. But how does one arrive at the “best book of all time”? A year later, Salman Rushdie, one of the writers who took part in the survey, claimed the writers who took part in the survey were asked to list, in no particular order, 10 of their favourite books, then this list was fed into a computer. In the end, the computer declared Don Quixote to be the greatest and most meaningful book of all time. Only decades ago, the fact that a machine was deciding matters of art may have raised some eyebrows and maybe given rise to some interesting critique of the methodology. But not a whisper was heard.

Compare this to the plot of Asimov’s 1955 story Franchise and the debut of Multivac. The story is about the US election in 2008. The election was a simple affair. Computer selected a man, a representative of the electorate, and asked him a few questions. Based on this one man’s answers, a President was elected. With all that computational power at hand, it probably was not hard for Asimov to guess which route humanity will take. At the start of this story, the protagonist is weary of the computer-driven election process but by the time the process is over, and after he has exercised his vote, he feels: “In this imperfect world, the sovereign citizens of the first and greatest Electronic Democracy had, through Norman Muller (through him!) exercised once again its free, untrammeled franchise.”
DownToEarth magazine's Science Fiction special issue (Jan 1-15, 2012) has a piece by me on Isaac Asimov's visions of future. Here's me tripping on Asimov: From cache.

If you are a science fiction buff or even fiction buff, you might as well check out these brilliant articles from the issue:
Arvind Mishra and Harish Goyal on origin of Science Fiction in Hindi.
Debjani Sengupta on Industrialisation, modernity and science fiction in Bengal.

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